Archive for the ‘ ~3 to 5 Miles~ ’ Category

Buck Hill – Burrillville

  • Buck Hill Management Area
  • Buck Hill Road, Burrillville, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°59’6.53″N,  71°47’21.36″W
  • Last Time Hiked: January 18, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.6 miles
  • Easy with slight elevation, rocky footing in areas.

 

Nestled in the northwest corner of Rhode Island just west of Wallum Lake is the Buck Hill Management Area. This vast piece of property, a haven for hunters and hikers, is pure seclusion. At times you are literally miles from any civilization and it is easy to appreciate what nature has to offer here. I was joined by a group of hikers for this stroll on this gray January morning. The temperatures were bearable, however the trails were very icy, slowing our usual pace. We started from the second parking lot where the gate is. From here we headed north along the access road. Soon we came to the first intersection. We continued straight along the access road. The road to the left would be our return route. We soon crossed a small brook before coming to the next fork. The access road veers to the right. At this point we choose to stay to the left and started following the yellow blazed trail. This trail was rather rocky for most of its length. We then came to an opening on the left. Here is a marsh, part of Lesson Brook. Although we saw none this morning, I would imagine this would be a good spot to view water foul. We continued along the yellow blazed trail passing areas of hemlocks and mountain laurel, passing an old fire road, before coming to an area with some stone walls. Here, atop a rather high hill, looks as if there may have been a structure at one time. We then continued along the yellow trail and came to Old Starr Road. The road is very obvious as it is a small valley between the roads embankments and stone walls. From here we turned left, heading west, down the hill. Soon we came to a fork. We followed the road to the left.  From here we followed this road to its end, winding gently uphill for a bit. The road follows the ridge line of Benson Mountain for about a mile. There are several paths off of the main road that lead to several fields along the way. The road then bears left and downhill to its end. Turning right we retraced our steps along the access road back to the parking area. This area is open to hunting and orange must be worn during hunting season.

 

Trail map can be found at: Buck Hill.

Frozen Marsh At Buck Hill

Frozen Marsh At Buck Hill

Tri State Marker – Thompson/Burrillville/Douglas

  • Tri State Marker
  • East Thompson Road, Thompson, CT
  • Trailhead: 42° 0’31.89″N, 71°48’32.66″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 27, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.2 miles
  • Moderate, difficult in areas with rocky footing and hills, rest is fairly easy.

 

Upon a knoll deep in the woods is where the states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut meet. At that point is a granite marker. It is not an uncommon occurrence in the United States. But here it is all on public land and there are trails leading to it. Although this hike was not just to the marker and back, it certainly is one of the highlights of it. This hike would lead us through all three states using various trails. We (myself, Auntie Beak, and a another fellow hiker) started at East Thompson Road where the Airline Trail crosses the road. This would be the first highlight of the hike. At this location on December 4, 1891 the Great East Thompson Train Wreck occurred. It was the only four train collision in the countries history. There is signage here explaining the event. From here we headed east along the Airline Trail. The trail itself is the former railroad bed. It is now just a flat wide dirt and gravel path. We soon came to an old wooden bridge that crossed the path. The bridge was apparently used to herd livestock safely over the railroad. Just after the bridge and to the left is a faint path that leads toward the bridge approach. Here is the next highlight of this hike. It is the Hermit Cave. The small hole in the side of the hill is the entrance to the cave. Inside the cave (flashlight required) is some impressive stonework. No one knows for sure who built it, but it appears to be similar to many root cellars found throughout New England. Continuing on the Airline Trail we soon came to a sign for the blue-blazed Tri State Marker Trail. Here we turned right and started the fairly short (three tenths of a mile) but relatively challenging uphill and rocky climb toward the next highlight of this hike. This trail follows the Connecticut/Massachusetts border. At the top of the trail is a small clearing with a large granite marker. This is the Tri-State marker. The monument, dated 1883, has the abbreviations of the three states inscribed in it. The trail to the right would lead you back to the Airline Trail if you decide you have seen enough. The trail straight ahead, called the Border Trail by locals, would lead you along the Connecticut/Rhode Island border into the heart of the Buck Hill Management area. We opted to follow the trail to the left (east) that follows the Rhode Island/Massachusetts border. We were in the extreme northern edge of Buck Hill along this trail. The trail, still rocky and somewhat difficult, continues to climb uphill, passing a few more state boundary markers along the way. The trail soon ends. We turned left onto the next trail and into the Douglas State Forest. The trail, unblazed and unnamed steadily descends down the opposite side of the hill we just climbed over. The hike from here on is relatively easy as most of the inclines were now behind us. Along this trail we came across the first of some quite impressive cellar holes. At the next intersection we turned left onto the yellow blazed Mid-State Trail. We followed the Mid-State for a while passing yet another impressive cellar hole. The Mid-State then turns to the right (sign on tree says “PARK”), we followed the trail to the left and continued downhill, passing a small stream, to a four way intersection at the Southern New England Trunkline Trail. This trail is a continuation of the railroad bed we came in on. It just has a different name on the Massachusetts side. Before turning left and following the trail back to the car, we did a little exploring to the right and straight ahead checking out some of the water features. Rocky Brook offers some small cascading waterfalls and the pond here was still with some nice reflections. Both Buck Hill in Rhode Island and the Douglas State Forest in Massachusetts are open to hunting. We did come across hunters on this hike. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

 

Trail map can be found at: Tri-State Marker. (courtesy of Auntie Beak)

 

The Tri-State Marker

The Tri-State Marker

Reflections

Reflections

Riverwood Preserve – Westerly

 

Riverwood Preserve in Westerly is a property nestled between the Pawcatuck River and the railroad tracks near Chapman Pond just east of Route 78. Access to the property is at the end of Boy Scout Drive by a gate at the entrance to the Quequatuck Boy Scout Camp. Parking is available along Old Hopkinton Road and you must walk to the entrance. We then passed the kiosk and followed the short entrance trail to orange loop trail. At the orange trail we turned left and started heading in a northerly direction. Soon the trail hugged the shore of the Pawcatuck River occasionally passing some mountain laurel. The trail features stone walls and boulders as well. It also crosses some wet areas and small streams with makeshift log bridges. We came across a cellar hole as well. When we came to the blue trail, we followed it first through a ravine and then up the hill. The blue trail is a loop the circles the higher part of the property. It is a little rocky and can be slightly challenging. It offers some spots that have decent views of the surrounding area including Chapman Pond. There is also evidence of quarrying that was once done here. We also stumbled across some deer along this trail. After completing the blue loop trail we continued on the orange loop trail. The trail first nears the railroad tracks then turns northerly along a flat leisurely stretch. The hill to the right features some ledges and more boulders. Soon we were back at the entrance trail. From here we retraced our steps back to the car.

 

Trail map can be found at: Riverwood.

Stone Walls Along The Orange Trail

Stone Walls Along The Orange Trail

Freetown South – Freetown/Fall River

  • Freetown South – Freetown State Forest
  • Bell Rock Road, Freetown, MA
  • Trailhead: 41°45’33.32″N, 71° 4’17.59″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 14, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.8 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION NEAR THE EDGES OF THE CLIFFS.

 

I ventured into the Freetown State Forest for the first of three planned hikes. This morning I choose to do the southern end of the forest. I was joined by a small group of hikers from The Providence County Hiking Club. We started from a parking area along Bell Rock Road. There are two trail heads here. We took the one by the large sign at the south end of the lot. The trail here is short, narrow, and well rutted from ATV use. It leads to a dirt road named Haskell Path. At the end of the trail we came to a gate. We turned right onto Haskell Path and followed it slightly downhill to a four way intersection with gates, passing several side trails we ignored. At the four way intersection we turned left onto a trail named Ledge Road. The road continues downhill and is flanked by the forest. We soon approached a fork in the road. We stayed to the left and continued to the a small stone bridge that crosses Rattlesnake Brook. (The road to the right would be our return route). After crossing the brook, and crossing briefly into Fall River, the road begins climbing, passing several side paths, as well as the Pond Trail and the Mothers Brook Trail. The road, well worn from the weather in areas, passes through areas of beech and pine trees. At the top of the hill a large area of ledge appears on the right. Use caution in this area. We explored the area enjoying the overlook. The view to the east looks over the pond below and the forest as far as the eye can see. We then returned to the road continuing north and started gradually going downhill. We then took a right onto the next road followed by another almost immediate right. This road leads to the shore of the pond. From here you get a good perspective of how high the ledge is. Here there is an intersection where we would turn left. However, we explored the short road along the edge of the pond before continuing. There are a few spots to enjoy the view here and there is a waterfall as well. We then turned left at the intersection and continued the hike crossing Rattlesnake Brook once again. Shortly after the brook we encountered another fork. The trail to the left is the Wampanoag Path. We stayed to the right passing a rather large gravel pit on the left before reaching the first fork we encountered. Here we went left and retraced our steps back to the parking area.

Trail map can be found at: Freetown South.

The Ledge and Pond

The Ledge and Pond

Norman Bird Sanctuary – Middletown

  • Norman Bird Sanctuary
  • Third Beach Road, Middletown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°29’58.69″N,  71°15’3.14″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 10, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.8 miles
  • Moderate with difficult terrain in areas.

 

This property situated at the southern end of Aquidnick Island is truly a gem. There are several miles of trails here that vary from a stroll to sections that require some climbing. The views on the overlooks are absolutely remarkable. The property is abundant with species of all sorts including mammals, reptiles, and of course birds. The sanctuary is a privately owned but open to the public. The hours are 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is also a (well-worth) fee to enter the property. All of that information along with information on programs can be found on their website. After stopping in the Welcome Center to pay entry and get a trail map I made my way down the main trail just to the right of the building. This trail, known as the Norman Universal Access Trail, is a stone dust covered trail that first leads towards an open farm field with a chicken coupe and rolls of hay. The trail then turns to the left and loops behind the Welcome Center passing the first of several stone walls. I soon found myself following the signs leading me to the pond. The trail meanders slowly downhill passing intersections (all with signs) for the Woodland and Quarry Trails. I continued following signs leading me to the pond and found myself on the first of the boardwalks. At the end of this first boardwalk and to the right is the small pond. Here there is a small observation deck. The pond, surrounded by grass and wildflowers, has a few boulders and fallen tree limbs in it. On this pass of the pond I saw a lone mallard resting on a stone and a heron was coming in for a landing. The trail then continues over a wooden bridge that crosses a spillway. Up to this point the hike is very easy. The remainder of it is on trails with several roots, rocks, and follows ridge lines.  Soon I approached the next boardwalk and intersection. Here I turned left. The trail splits again in a few feet. I opted to stay to the left onto a trail that winds through areas of small boulders, stone walls, and ferns. It soon passes the Shady Glade Trail to the left. I continued straight. Along this trail I caught my first glimpse of the water of Gardiner Pond on the left. To the right is the first sign of the elevation coming up as a large ledge becomes visible. The trail soon turns to the right and a set of wooden steps appear. At the top of the steps I turned left onto the Hanging Rock Trail. This would be the first of four ridge trails of this hike. I followed the 70 foot high puddingstone ridge to an overlook at the end of the trail. This overlook is the reason you want to bring binoculars. From this overlook you can see the cathedral of St. Georges School to the west beyond the pond below. You can see Purgatory Chasm as well to the southwest. From this vantage point it appears as a large crack in a ledge near Second Beach. Beyond Easton Point (just south of the chasm) you can make out another point aptly named Lands End. That is where the Cliff Walk in Newport ends. To the south and overlooking Second Beach is a sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean. You will occasionally see large ships using the shipping lanes just south of Rhode Island. To the southeast you see the peninsula that is home to the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. On a clear day (overlooking Sachuest, just to the left of the large building and parking lot on the point) you can see the Sakonnet Point lighthouse. And finally to the east is Gardiner Pond just below, Third Beach, and the Sakonnet River. Beyond that is the rolling hills and farms of Little Compton. After taking in the view for a little while, I retraced my steps back to wooden steps. Instead of going down them, I continued straight along the ridge line trail slowly going downhill to the next intersection. Then I turned left passing a four way intersection where the Valley Trail begins. I continued straight and then went left onto the Red Fox Trail at the next split. The Red Fox Trail also follows a ridge line and near its end it follows a stretch that has sheer drops on both sides. Fear of heights could be an issue here. Just before the trail loops is another great view. The view from here includes much of the same from Hanging Rock, but from here you can see just how impressive Hanging Rock actually is. I also found this stop very serene in sound. A cool ocean breeze was rustling through the thousands of cattails in the valley below. Continuing, I followed the trail as it looped back north. I came to another intersection and noticed a set of signs on a tree. The signs simply read “Difficult” and “Easy” each with an arrow. I choose to go left here onto the Nelson Pond Trail. If you don’t like climbing or heights you should go straight here. The signs are true to word. After crossing a small boardwalk, I found myself climbing up a series of rocks along the trail to the third ridge of the hike. The trail then levels out a bit. The “easy” trail eventually rejoins to the right. Here I found myself entertained by a murder of crows. One was actually hanging upside down from a tree branch as if it were a bat. Continuing straight, the trail splits. The trail to the left leads further uphill the another overlook. From here you can see the sprawling Gray Craig Mansion as well as Nelson Pond. I then continued. What goes up must come down, and that is exactly what this trail does next. I found myself cautiously and methodically making my way down parts of the trail. The trail the bends right and then left, levels out, and passes the entrance of the Red Fox Trail to the right before coming to the four way intersection where the Valley Trail begins. Here I turned left making my way to the Gray Craig Trail. I passed a trail to the right, and then came to another boardwalk that crosses Paradise Brook. After crossing the boardwalk I continued to the loop trail after being greeted by a wild turkey. At the beginning of the loop I opted to follow the trail clockwise as it climbed the fourth and final ridge on the property. After completing the loop I retraced my steps back to the last intersection. Here I turned left following a trail that would lead me back to the end of the Universal Access Trail by the pond, then turning left again and crossing the wooden bridge by the pond once again. At the pond there was no sign of the mallard or heron I saw on the way in, however, several turtles were here sunbathing. I also got a glimpse of a muskrat here. From here I retraced my steps back to the Welcome Center. Along the entire hike I could hear rustling of squirrels and birds in the fallen leaves all around. Some of the birds I observed here were blue jays, a red tailed hawk, robins, cat birds, finches, and geese. I also noticed an abundance of shrubs and bushes with berries as well as several different types of trees. The Norman Bird Sanctuary offers a little bit of everything to any nature enthusiast.

 

Trail map can be found at: Norman Bird Sanctuary.

Red Fox Trail Looking Toward The Atlantic Ocean

Red Fox Trail Looking Toward The Atlantic Ocean

Hanging Rock

Hanging Rock

 

Spencer Property – Foster

  • Spencer Property
  • Old Danielson Pike, Foster, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°49’11.38″N, 71°42’49.01″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 20, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.2 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

The Foster Land Trust hosted a Rhode Island Land Trust Days event this morning on their Spencer Property. This property was once owned by a well known local doctor and was donated to the Land Trust in 1999. We started the hike from a small parking area across from utility pole 64 on Old Danielson Pike. We started by following the main trail named the Ponaganset River Trail into the property. The trail is marked at each intersection and is easy to follow. The stone dust trail winds downhill toward Spencer Pond. Large sections of the shore are accessible and the pond is known to have trout and bass in it. The trail then makes it way into the woods and becomes a traditional natural hiking trail. Soon a trail to the right appears, it is unofficially named the Gravel Pit Trail. We passed it on the way in but explored it on the way out. One of the spur trails here leads to the Ponaganset River. Continuing along the main trail we passed a few more trails to the left that lead to private property. One of them, however, leads to a newly acquired D.E.M. property once owned by the Carpenter family. An eagle scout has received permission from both D.E.M. and the Foster Land Trust to connect and blaze this trail from the Ponaganset River Trail to East Killingly Road. A majority of the work should be done this fall and should be completed by spring. We explored this trail for a bit as well on the way out. The aptly named main trail eventually ends at the Ponaganset River. There is a faint trail to the right that follows the river. There are plans to establish this trail to connect back to the Gravel Pit Trail to form a loop. There are areas where it can be a little wet and there are streams and brooks here. However, at the time of this hike it was very dry. There are also several stone walls and a cellar hole on the property as well. This property is dog friendly, in fact our guides dog led us most of the hike. I did not see much of wildlife other than birds, but there was plenty of evidence of it. The locals informed us that bear is not an uncommon sight in the area. So much so that the University of Rhode Island is using this property, as well as several others, as part of their bear population studies.

 

I did not find a trail map on-line.

Spencer Pond

Spencer Pond

Goddard State Park – Warwick

  • Goddard Memorial State Park
  • Ives Road, Warwick, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°39’12.72″N, 71°26’36.43″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 19, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.6 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

Almost directly across Narragansett Bay from the East Bay crown jewel, that being Colt State Park, is the West Bay equivalent. Goddard State Park offers a little bit of everything. It has a plethora of picnic areas, fields, a former carousel now used for events, a public beach, and of course trails. The trails that traverse the park are in fact bridle trails used by C and L Stables and you are likely to encounter a passing horse on occasion. They offer horseback riding to the public.  I obtained a copy of the park map and somewhat mimicked in reverse the route in Ken Weber’s “More Walks & Rambles” book. I started today’s hike from the parking area at the boat launch. A trail leads uphill from the parking area in a northeasterly direction. The trails here are wide and relatively soft, covered in most spots with either mulch, sand, and pine needles. You should keep an eye on where you are stepping. After all these are active bridle trails (if you know what I mean). After following this trail for a little while it splits. I stayed to the right and the trail then turns slightly left and rejoins itself. Here I turned right. A trail then veers off to the left, I continued straight and followed the trail through tall pines and various other trees. The trail then starts to turn to the right and joins another trail. Almost immediately a trail appears on the left, I choose to continue straight passing an area that appeared to be used for composting. A trail then appeared on the left. I turned here. This trail meandered in and out of the woods and along the edges of the fields before finally turning back into the woods. At the next intersection I turned right, crossed the road, and came to the park headquarters building. I stopped here to inquire about some of the parks features. The staff was very friendly and extremely helpful. I then continued along the trail in an easterly direction ignoring the three trails that were to the left. I also noticed a stone wall to the right along this stretch which seemed to be a haven for chipmunks. There was also an abundance of birds along this stretch. I then soon found myself along the edge of a residential neighborhood. This is private property. Please stay on the trail and respect the posted signage. After passing yet another trail on the left I came to an intersection. I turned right onto a loop trail. About midway through the loop a trail appears on the right. It is not shown on the map. It leads down to Sally Rock Point. From here you can see the Buttonwoods neighborhood across Greenwich Way as well as Oakland Beach, a tall stone tower on Warwick Neck, Patience Island, and Prudence Island. A few iconic Rhode Island sailboats were passing through the waters. There were also many sea gulls and a cormorant here. After taking a short and scenic break I retraced my steps back to the loop trail. I then turned right and then right again following the trail that hugged the bank above the shore. I stayed to the right at all of the intersections along this stretch. Soon I found myself passing a small pond on the left. Here there were several swans and geese wading around. Continuing along the trail along the bank above the Bay I eventually came to a parking area for the public beach. I passed through the parking lot making my way to the carousel. Originally built in New York in 1890 by Charles Loof, the carousel had several homes before finally coming to Goddard. From 1931 until 1973 the carousel was in operation here. All that remains today is the building. The structure is now used for private parties and events. From the carousel I passed a time capsule commemorating the 100th anniversary of the park before crossing the bridge over the road. Then I turned right slightly passing through a picnic area before coming to the trail once again. This trail again follows the bank over the bay before bending back toward the left. I then came to an intersection. I followed the trail to the right down to the beach by Long Point. From here (it was low tide) I followed the beach along Greenwich Cove back to the parking area by the boat launch. I came across a gentleman here who asked if I got a picture of an eagle that was in the area. Busy taking pictures of the boats in the cove, I did not see the eagle. He did however show me a video he took of it with his phone. I really wish I had seen it. With all that it has to offer, it is no wonder why this park won Rhode Island Monthly’s Best Free Attraction for multiple years. The walk I took was about 4 and a half miles. According to the parks website, there are 18 miles of bridle trails here. You could easily make this walk longer if you choose.

 

Trail map can be found at: Goddard State Park.

Along A Bridle Trail

Along A Bridle Trail

Greenwich Cove At Goddard Park

Greenwich Cove At Goddard Park

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